-H.M.S. Hood Association Online Archive-
May 2008 H.M.S. Hood Association Reunion
By Frank Allen & Paul Bevand, MBE
Updated 06-May-2014

The weekend of 24-25 May 2008 saw members of the H.M.S. Hood Association and assorted guests convene for the 33rd annual Association reunion. The events were once again based in Portsmouth at the Royal Maritime Club and St Georges Church. What follows is a brief account and several photos covering the events.

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Saturday 24 May 2008 - Annual General Meeting and Reunion Dinner
Association members gathered at 1600 hours in the Royal Maritime Club's "Brock's Bar" for the Annual General Meeting. The usual Association business was discussed and annual Committee elections were held. Details will be made available to Association members in future newsletters.

Gift Presentation to Rev Ron Paterson
Presentation to Ron Paterson
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Two particulary notable topics came up during the AGM. The first was the unveiling of the final design of the Hood memorial to be placed at the National Memorial Arboretum. The memorial will now be considerably larger than previously envisaged due to increased funds being available following a generous bequest. The other was the presentation of a gift to Reverend Ron Paterson. Ron, now 91, served as the chaplain of the Association for many years but recent poor health has forced him to stand down. Chaplain of the Fleet, Archdeacon John Green is taking over as the new Association chaplain with Ron's blessings. The Association presented Ron with a very nice Dartington glass tankard to express our thanks for the wonderful job he has done. Though frail, Ron is still in good cheer and his response to receiving the gift made us all laugh.

Once the AGM ended, people prepared for the dinner. Members gathered in the ball room at 1830. The ball room had been decorated once again by the website staff with numerous photos of the ship and crew. There were also three actual wool flags from Hood herself present (provided by Jim Sikorski). Most importantly there was a very large display of approximately 677 photos of men lost in the sinking of Hood. These, along with a Roll of Honour occupied the entire right rear corner of the ballroom.

There were approximately 92 people who attended the dinner. Among these were our Patron, Lord Hood and five veterans of Hood (Ted Briggs, Ken "Nobby" Clark, Keith Evans, Alec Kellaway and Robert Philpott). Also present were a number of special guests: First there was our Guest of Honour, Rear-Admiral Wilcocks and his wife. We also had Surgeon Rear-Admiral Curr, Cornwall District Officer Lt Cdr Gary Truscott, and people from TS Hood, Sea Cadet Corps from St Austell, Cornwall. Also present were Royal Maritime Club Manager David Watts and his wife plus Banquetting Manager Vivienne Wood. Our new Chaplain, Archdeacon Green and his wife were also present.

As one might expect, most of the attendees were from the UK, but a handful of people came from elsewhere. Among these was James Warrand who flew in from Australia, Anna Pelkonen from Sweden, Jim Sikorski and our webmaster, Frank Allen of the United States plus Egill Thorfinnsson (ET) from Iceland. It should be noted that Mr Thorfinnsson recently wrote an article about Hood for an Iclandic newspaper. It was published on the weekend of the reunion.

At the dinner
After the Dinner
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The Top Table was manned this year by Nobby Clark, Paul Bevand, Vice-Chairman Keith Evans, President Ted Briggs, RADM Wilcocks, Lord Hood, Mrs Wilcocks, Chairman Peter Heys, Ms. Vivienne Wood, and Master of Ceremonies Derick Collins. Ms. Wood, the Banqueting Manager of the Royal Maritime Club, was asked to be our special guest for a second year as a way to say thanks for so many years of excellent support to our Association.

We were also very fortunate to have with us once again, Sir Harold Walker KCMG and his lovely wife again.  Sir Harold, is not only an accomplished diplomat but is also the son of H.T.C. "Hooky" Walker, the tenth captain of Hood. In addition to the Walkers, we were also honoured to have two relatives of VADM Lancelot Holland- Patrick Wales-Smtih and Peter Harmon. Our good friends Dr Eric Grove and Rob White of the team that found the wreck of Hood were also present.  Jean Winter once again had a very large group with her as well- tonight was an extra special occasion though- it was also Jean's birthday.

The dinner proper commenced at 1900 hours. This year's menu consisted of French onion soup, followed by a large lamb shank (braised in root vegetable and red wine sauce), creamed potatoes, sweet corn and broccoli mornay.  This was followed by a desert of mandarin gateau then cheese and biscuits. The meal was rounded off with coffee and mints. Kudos to the club staff for the excellent service.

RADM Phillips lifting a candle holder from Hood
RADM Wilcocks
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After dinner, toasts were made to The Queen, our Guest of Honour, the ladies and of course, absent friends. This last toast was presented by Commander Keith Evans who spoke about veterans Samuel Gray, Percy Price, William Hawkins and others who had "crossed the bar". He also mentioned long time Association member Roger Tombs who had passed away. He also mentioned that we had received a message of good will and support from Herve Grall and our friend at the Mers el Kebir Association who were with us last year but not this and are therefore absent friends too.

Following the toasts, our Guest of Honour, RADM Wilcocks was introduced. His uncle, Eric Wilcocks, was one of the men lost in the sinking of Hood. RADM Wilcocks was also once the Commanding Officer of H.M.S. Collingwood during which time he had the new medical centre named for Hood. The Admiral was presented with a gift and then he spoke about the Navy and its promising future.

After the speech and presentation, the annual raffle took place.  It was conducted by Jack Moulden and his lovely wife. Unfortunately, this will be their last year with us as they are moving away. The Association presented the Mouldens with a special bottle of whisky in thanks for all their hard work over the years. The evening wound to a close afterwards with people chatting and having nightcaps between the ballroom and Brock's Bar. Another excellent reunion dinner had drawn to a close.

As always, the meal, facilities and staff were spectacular. We heartily salute the staff of the Royal Maritime Club for their hard work and support.

Sunday, 25 May 2008- The St. George's Church Service

Association Members on Sunday Morning
Sunday morning gathering
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People gathered for the "parade" to church around 1000 hours. We had expected rain (and it had come down in torrents the night before) but the day turned out to be beautiful, sunny and warm. Unfortunately, despite this excellent weather, we were unable to have an official parade this year due to a lack of police escort or suitable security team. There had also been road construction along the usual parade route (Queen Street and The Hard), so it was potentially unsafe. Rather than march to church along the usual route, we assembled and paraded/walked along the back road (Hannover, Beneficial and Butcher Streets). The Cadets of H.M.S. Collingwood and TS Tenacity led the way, followed by the impressive colour guard from TS Hood, St Austell.

Some members of the group helped direct a few cars around the procession. Eventually, everyone arrived safe and sound at the church. As people assembled outside, the band from TS Tenacity played.

Sea Cadets of TS Hood, St Austell
TS Hood, St Austell
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The church was absolutely beautiful as always and appeared to be largely full-up for the service. The wreath and standards were placed on the alter and the service commenced. The service was led by new Association chaplain Archdeacon John Green and St George's vicar Karina Green. The piano accompanyment was again wonderfully provided by Miss Tracey Dean. The sermon was wonderful, being both humorous and entertaining, but also very clear, poignant and inspiring: It stressed the sacrifices made during the war (to include those of Hood) and developed that thought into modern day life. It emphasised that we all have to be willing to care for one another and make sacrifices for one another's benefit. The service itself was very interesting and fresh/new overall (we sang a number of different hymns for the first time in many years). Once again, some of the young cadets from H.M.S. Collingwood took part in the service. A great job as always.

Following the service, everyone gathered for the return "parade" to the Royal Maritime Club. The traffic had increased unfortunately, but everyone eventually returned safely to the club grounds. The weather was beautiful and the walk home in the sun was the perfect end to another reunion weekend. Afterwards, most people returned home, but some members either stayed in the Club, or went shopping downtown or at the nearby Gunwharf Quay shopping center, or toured the Portsmouth Royal Navy Museum.

Next Year's Reunion
Please take note that next year's reunion will take place at the Royal Maritime Club on Saturday, 25 May 2009. The St Georges Service of Remembrance will be on the following day, Sunday, 26 May 2009. The annual service at the Church of St John the Baptist in Boldre will take place on 19 May 2009.

Additional Photos
Below are various photos from the reunion weekend. Click to enlarge.

People talking before the raffle   The Top Table   A view of the reunion dinner   TS Hood with Ted Briggs
Mary Tilburn and Nobby Clark  Sea Cadets Assembling Outside the Club   The parade to church   Hood Veterans outside St Georges Church
Association members entering the church   Tracey Dean   Inside St Georges Church   Sea Cadets marching back from church